I am a proud 1996 graduate of Eastern Illinois University. Since those days I had always hoped to send my children to college and until recently expected to do so. But I am alarmed by Illinois' decreasing lack of commitment to affordable higher education. I am beginning to fear that I will have to watch my children's dreams of a college education disappear. When I attended EIU a years tuition and fees were about $4,000 and today it has ballooned to $11,500. Although the true cost of a college education has undoubtedly increased during the years, a large part of this increase is the result of governmental indifference, and sometimes outright hostility toward higher education. To illustrate the state's indifference if not hostility, the state now covers about twenty percent of the cost of educating our children at our public universities. This is an outrageous decline from sixty percent or so during my days at EIU in the mid 90's. And now I read a Pew poll that discovered most Republicans now boldly express a negative view of a college education! The poll reminded me that Coles County's elected representatives, both proud Republicans, refused to fully fund EIU not all that long ago. Even now EIU is burdened by insufficient funding. One might think that Springfield's support could go no lower, but I can't forget the disastrous cuts our county's elected representatives and their governor forced upon Eastern and its students. The cuts still scar not just EIU but also our county, as the empty homes, shuttered businesses, and "for sale" signs attest. Some have said we can and should provide free college tuition to our children. I think it's time to consider this, before time runs out for my kids and yours.
Brian Reardon, Mattoon